Is alcohol our guns?

Right now in Australia there’s all kinds of fuss and uproar about our increasingly tough, and some would say draconian, rules surrounding alcohol. And more specifically, the hours you can and can’t buy and publicly consume it.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit I don’t drink alcohol. At all. It wasn’t always that way. I’ve definitely done my fair share of alcohol consumption. Some might even say more than my fair share. So I’m no goody two shoes who doesn’t understand drinking culture at all. The difference is, I turned my back on it the better part of ten years ago. So perhaps my opinions are always going to be a little skewed.

It’s time for a reality check.

But I think it’s time we admit we’ve got a drinking problem. And it’s time we got a reality check. Not being able to buy alcohol from a store after 10pm is not a crime against humanity. And neither is shutting licensed venues at 3am. Now, before you start throwing your empty beer bottles at me in protest, let me explain.

There’ll be those that say this is very backwards of us. That it’s embarrassing us globally. Well, I’m not sure I agree. We do a pretty good job of embarrassing ourselves. We already sit embarrassingly high up on the list of countries with the highest alcohol consumption per capita. But the really embarrassing thing is we’re not embarrassed by this at all, but rather proud of it.

A few years back, in my drinking days in fact, I was in an American town where I was quite surprised to find licensed venues shut at around 1am. How strange, I thought, having come form a place where I could drink until daylight – a very intelligent and productive thing to do. A time when all the best decisions are made. But oh yeah, that little town I was in? Los Angeles. You may even have heard of it? I don’t see anyone running around saying they’re a little backwater town because people can’t go out drinking til daylight. I actually struggled to find what time the current closing time there is, although this article suggests last drinks get called around 2am. Surely enough time to work up a fairly decent hangover, throw up, or punch a random stranger for little or no reason? According to good old Wikipedia, it seems 2am may still be the go. Although on the upside, you can take an Uzi with your Ouzo over there.

Which brings me to guns. Most Australians look at America’s gun laws and just don’t get it. They seem stupid to us. (The laws, I mean, not Americans in general.) Well, most of us. That whole gun toting culture, makes no sense at all. What are they thinking? Why don’t they just crack down on it and change for everyone’s good. Surely being able to buy and shoot guns isn’t that important? But maybe our alcohol laws aren’t so different.

Sink a few boats full of refugees and there’s barely murmur in middle Australia. But tell us we can’t drink til 6am and all hell breaks loose. What the fuck happened to us? When did drinking ourselves into oblivion get so damn important?

Sure, there’ll be those who have their businesses and jobs affected by these changes. And I’m not completely unsympathetic to that. Change can be tough at times. I’ve been through it myself and it’s not a lot of fun.

I’m also not 100% certain changing these laws will have the desired affect of reducing alcohol fueled violence. (Although some of the initial research coming through may suggest it is.) But is it worth a shot? (No, not of Tequila.) You know what, I think it probably is.

And from what I can see, as usual there’s at least a smattering of hypocrisy in the exemptions for Casinos. Because people don’t get drunk or get violent when they drink in those resorts of places, right? I’m not pitching the changes as perfect, but hey, maybe it’s better than nothing. (Oh and for those of you questioning exemptions, you only need to look at our speed limit laws to recognise that sometimes, there are different rules for different areas and there’s a pretty good reason the speed limit in school zones, for example, is 25 and not 100. Double, or even multiple standards? Sure. But certainly not unprecedented legally.)

There’s still plenty of time to buy alcohol if that’s your thing. And certainly enough time to drink it until you end up on someone’s embarrassing SnapChat post.

I’m all for a bit of outrage. A bit of protest and revolution. But I sure am embarrassed there seems to be more disgust and noise around this issue than things like refugees, same sex marriage, domestic violence and any number of other causes that are infinitely more worthy of our attention and outrage. Yes, I know you can’t compare causes, and some of us have enough outrage to go around, but come on people.

It’s easy to look at things as they’ve always been and think it’s outrageous that they should change, especially when those changes don’t suit us, or seem as though we’re going backwards. But what if it’s positive progress? What if we’re making changes that will make things better? Building with asbestos was once the norm. Oops. As was telling people smoking cigarettes was good for you. 

Doh!

Rest assured you can still buy as much alcohol as you want, (before 10pm), and drink as much as you like (not necessarily in a public place where your actions and superior dancing skills are more likely to affect others), so are these changes really worth so much negativity?

For those of you who may have forgotten, while ‘getting on it’ is not only culturally accepted, but actually encouraged, at the risk of being a loser of epic proportions, let’s not forget alcohol actually has a fairly impressive list of adverse affects. The cumulative effects list on this page is particularly impressive.

Personally, I think it’s time we pulled our heads out of the sand, and gutters, and had a good long hard look at ourselves. Those crazy Americans and their silly gun laws aren’t the only ones making fools of themselves right now.

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